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Serger Thread

serger-thread

A textured thread created for use in sergers (overlockers), coverstitch machines, and chainstitch machines.

There is a reason that serger thread comes on cones of up to 3000 yards (2743 meters): Sergers use a lot of thread to overlock and make seams! The looper stitches require the most thread because they wrap around the edge of the fabric; the needles require quantities comparable to regular sewing machine stitches. Serger thread is lighter weight than most all-purpose sewing machine threads. It is designed for high-speed sewing and special serger needles.

Serger thread has characteristics that make it different from machine thread, including the following:

  • Size: Serger thread is finer than all-purpose thread.
  • Strength: Serger thread is exposed to a great deal of friction as it passes through the needles and fabric at high speeds (1300 to 1700 stitches per minute). It has a special finish that makes it extra smooth for this type of sewing.
  • Winding: Because serger thread is drawn up and off the cone from the top, it is cross-wound on the cone so that it will pull off easily. Cross-wound thread is lapped in a figure-eight or diagonal pattern; some spool threads are also wound this way, particularly threads on long, thin spools, whereas threads on the traditional short, thick spools are stacked or wound in parallel rows up and down the spool, much as your bobbin thread is wound onto the bobbin by your sewing machine.
  • Color: Serger threads come in a wide variety of colors, including variegated; however, there are fewer colors than can be found in machine threads. The needle thread is the one that shows; the looper threads are generally seen only on the inside of the garment. Therefore, it is important to match only the needle thread; the looper threads can be black or white or a color that blends with the fabric. The exception to this is the flatlock stitch, which shows on the outside. For flatlocking you may want a matching thread, or you can use a contrasting thread as a design feature.
  • Spool type: Serger thread is typically packaged on cones containing 3000 yards (2743 meters), a practice that began with the use of industrial sergers in factories. Compact cones are also available with 1500 yards (1372 meters); these are often specialty threads such as wooly nylon. If you need to adapt your serger for regular spools of thread, use the cone adaptor, thread net, and/or spool cap provided with the serger.
  • Fiber content: Like all-purpose sewing machine thread, the most common serger thread is 100% polyester. It has good elasticity and is an appropriate choice for knitwear, lingerie and fleece. It also works well for serging woven fabrics. It is strong and resilient, and resistant to abrasion. Wooly nylon, a crimped, fuzzy thread with additional stretch, is suitable for sewing with knits or stretch materials; it is used only in the loopers. Monofilament nylon is strong and transparent and can be used for couching or where invisible thread is called for. Specialty threads such as metallics and rayons are also available.

Tips & Tricks

Don't be tempted to use serger thread in your sewing machine. It will most likely break in the course of a seam; it may affect the machine's tension and therefore the quality of your stitch; and it is a lintier thread than all-purpose thread and will throw lint into your machine in undesirable quantities.

Check your serger manual to be sure that you are using the correct needle. Some sergers call for needles marked ELx705; some function properly with sewing machine needles. ELx705 needles come in sizes 80/12 and 90/14.

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